Although the AR-15 is often regarded as an anemic set up for hunting hogs, there’s a few reasons it can be a great for killing those piggies! Let me explain and run you through how I set-up my AR-15 for hog hunting.


Want to see hogs go down and my AR-build in action on a hunt? Check out the video I made on this project:

Setting Up the AR-15 For Hog Hunting

There’s really only a few things you need to consider for a AR-15 hog hunting set up. (Provided you have the night vision and a rifle to begin with)

The main components that will make or break your set up revolve around four main parts:

  • A night vision compatible optic
  • Some sort of IR flashlight
  • A usable IR aiming unit
  • A suppressor/silencer

Let’s go over how I setup my AR-15 and at the end I’ll go over how effective it was and what I might change next time.

The Bones of the AR-15

The base rifle I built was a BCM 14.5″. I recently bought this upper to replace my Spikes Tactical upper receiver that I had for about 7 years. I kept the Spike’s lower and this setup has been working well for me for about a year now.

AR-15 hog rifle laying on ground

AR-15 set up for hunting hogs

Night Vision Optic

Aside from the laser aiming module, a night vision compatible optic is the only way you will be able to hit anything. I think we can all agree that’s a critical piece of equipment!

Close up pictures of a red dot sight

Holosun 403R red dot sight

For the optic, I chose the Holosun 403R. It’s form factor is most similar to the Aimpoint T2 series red dots and it is far more cost effective. This Holosun has 2 night vision settings and 10 daylight intensity settings as well.

I’m not easy on my equipment by any stretch. This red dot has worked well for me for over three years and I have been very happy with it. The night vision settings definitely came in handy when shooting on the range and during the three nights of hunting.

Optic Mount

The mount you select is often and afterthought, but that would be a mistake. For this trip, I decided to go with the Unity “FAST” mount. It is 1.93″ high. (about .36″ higher than the standard lower 1/3 height most commonly used for red dot sights)

1.93" tall mount for a red dot sight

Unity “FAST” 1.93″ mount for a red dot sight

It may sound like a small amount to make such a big difference, but trust me, it helps! The mount you decide to use is going to make or break how difficult it is to look through your optic with your night vision. If you have a short mount, it will be very hard to get your night vision tube behind and in a position to see the red dot. The taller mounts make shooting in the same posture as you are used to without the night vision possible. This is very important when hunting hogs at night. After the first shot, chaos breaks out and you do not have the time to be searching for your red dot.

When you start implementing night vision devices it’s very hard to look through a tube through a tube. The lower the optic, the the harder it is to get the angle correct. Having the Unity mount was a great start for the rifle build.

IR Lights and Lasers

Lights for Night Vision Shooting

For those who didn’t know, just like a normal flashlight that you can see when it’s dark, there are actually infrared (IR) flashlights that you use with night vision that are unable to see with the naked eye. These are called illuminators. Unless it is a bright night, you will still need a way to shine a light under the night vision in order to see the hogs and aim at them.

IR illuminator and pressure switch set up

SureFire IR illuminator + Unity pressure switch

Some IR laser units have both the laser and an illuminator all in one, which is definitely an advantage, but if you only have a laser, then the next step up would be purchasing some form of IR flashlight.

The SureFire Scout white-light is a common choice within the tactical training community for it’s robust form factor and reliable function. This light has the ability to attach an IR filter for the flashlight head so that the user can switch between a visible flashlight and an infrared flashlight only seen under night vision. That is what I had set up for a way to illuminate targets for this trip.

I paired the Scout light and the “Vampire” IR head with a pressure button to activate the light while holding the rifle in my regular shooting stance. The pressure button was the Unity “Axon SL”.

Close up of the Unity "Axon" activation button

Unity “Axon” activation button

Lasers for Night Vision Shooting

Although it is good to have a usable optic for night vision, a laser is the preferred aiming device for shooting under night vision. Being able to press a button, watch a laser shoot out and accurately hit what you need to, all while being invisible to the naked eye is pretty amazing.

I set up my AR-15 with the infamous PEQ-15 for my LAM (Laser Aiming Module).

PEQ-15 IR unit mounted on a rifle

The PEQ-15 is a highly programable IR laser/illuminator unit

For myself, it’s cool to know I can do any one of eight different things with this IR unit.

As long as you know how to use it, it can be utilized in all sorts of ways. It’s highly programmable, with multiple functions. You can even change your laser pattern. You can change it to a triangle or a square, or even a circle. This is really interesting, especially working in a in a group to identify who is aiming at a particular target.

Suppressing the AR-15

Lastly, all we had to do to complete this AR-15 build was add a suppressor. When you have a suppressor it allows the entire team to be able to communicate, and move more effectively.

Shooting AR-15 with a suppressor

Shooting with Huxwrx “7.62 Ti” suppressor

Having a suppressor on the rifle definitely helped out and I think it’s significant point to harp on. We could have done the hunt without them but when you have everyone suppressed, you’re going to be able to run through more groups of hogs, and for longer throughout the night. A good example of this is, you may have an engagement with a group of hogs and can look past that group and see a mile down the road at another group that wasn’t disturbed from your shooting.

Having everyone suppressed can allow you to get multiple engagements with multiple groups that otherwise would have spooked off if you were shooting even one unsuppressed rifle.

“Flow Through” Suppressor Technology

The suppressor I used was the Huxwrx “FLOW 762 Ti”. It is a robust, titanium suppressor, compatible with 5.56, 6.5 and 7.62 platforms. One nice thing about this suppressor in particular was that if you are shooting a lot of .223 or 300BLK, your gun doesn’t get as dirty because of the flow through deign. This allows your gun to stay cleaner, have less malfunctions and thus shoot for longer. This rifle was highly effective, super easy to shoot and definitely put some pigs on the ground.

So Why the AR-15 for Hogs?

A few weeks ago Matt Gibson of Ballisticraft Inc. invited me to come out to Mellon Creek Outfitters in Refugio, Texas to learn how to use night vision and hunt hogs with a stellar group that regularly trains with him.

When I asked him about what he thinks about hunting hogs with an AR-15.

Here was his response:

[On the AR-15]
“This is my fighting rifle, my every day rifle…my ‘everything rifle’. This setup serves multiple purposes. Yeah, there are better calibers for hog hunting. Obviously there are. I mean, I could put a .338 out there and it would make a big difference. The focus of the training is to implement good shot placement, utilize your equipment to the full and communicate with your team to be successful. Shot placement is key when you’re talking about 5.56, but that’s also part of the training. Slow yourself down, slow your team down and make the the quality shots that you went out there to do and don’t waste an opportunity”

On foot, up close…and in the dark.

This style of hunting would require a rifle that can shoot very precisely, rapidly and in partnership with night vision devices. All areas the AR-15 thrives in. The AR-15 can be also be modified to perform even better with upgraded optics and equipment.

Benefits of Hunting Hogs with an AR-15

Speaking for myself, I enjoy building my shooting skills on the range and I am always looking for ways to learn how to shoot my rifle faster and more accurately. Hunting hogs in this “up close” manner at night seemed like the perfect opportunity to increase my technical ability with my AR-15.

Here’s why:

  • Mastery of weapons and equipment handling in the dark (doing things by touch)
  • Placing accurate first round hits with rapid and precise follow up shots under stress (proper shooting techniques at the subconscious level)

With Matt’s background in the Marine Corps and his experience as a hunter he developed a course, “Nightstalker” that teaches students how to use and set up their night vision, lasers, rifle and other critical equipment for hunting hogs on foot at night. He has the student shoot a wide variety of drills on the range in order to get them ready for hunting each night.

The method Matt taught for hunting down these hogs was closely linked to basic skills taught to soldiers for effectively fighting an opposing force. This caught my attention immediately so I knew I would be interested to try it out for myself.

Special Notes on the AR-15 Build

Taking these four accessories and slapping them on a rifle is only part of what makes doing this type of hunt possible. There is actually so much more going on under the surface that makes a build like this really come together for a successful play date with the pigs. Let’s give an honorable mention to some of those smaller key factors on this rife.

Ammunition Used

If you’re going to use an AR-15 to hunt hogs, then you definitely want to try to have quality ammo to pair with good shot placement. Hogs have dense bones and extremely tough hides.

Close up on the Black Hills Ammunition 75gr hollow point rounds

The Black Hills 75gr were a great choice for pig popping

I decided to go with the Black Hills 75gr Match HP. With a velocity of 2750 FPS, they were highly effective. My second choice is the Black Hills 62gr TSX.

Using these loads, coupled with a 40 round magazine is plenty to go through 2-3 groups of hogs before needing to top off again.


This being my first hog hunt, I was going in “blind” (night vision pun intended). Matt recommended that anyone who had the ability to bring a tripod set up, should do so in case we were not able to get close to the hogs.

Detailed picture of the magnetic tripod receiver mount on an AR-15 handguard

Magnetic tripod receiver mounted on the bottom of the AR-15

I decided on the Spartan Precision Equipment “Davros” head adapter. This adaptor fit onto the camera tripod I use for making our AmmoMan videos. I’m already familiar with that tripod so it worked out pretty well.

A close up shot of the SPE "Davros" tripod head

Spartan Precision Equipment “Davros” magnetic tripod head.

I do think if you decide with your two-man or three-man team to get set up with thermal scopes and either a high caliber rifle where you’re not going to be doing a high volume of fire or even still the AR-15, the tripod definitely comes in handy for long range engagements.

Lessons Learned for Tripod Use

However, for the patrolling style we used, we would sneak up as close as possible. Sometimes as close as 15 yards. During the entire trip I only pulled the tripod out twice. This was for some 60 yard shots. After coming home and thinking about how the hunt went, I think you need to predesignate how you and your team want to hunt the hogs. Do you want to utilize the tripod, and shoot farther away? You will need to practice some techniques and tactics for using them because they can be pretty loud if you’re not careful.

Rifle mounted on a tripod

(top to bottom) AR-15 resting on tripod. Shooting a hog from 60+ yards using a tripod

If you want to do the up close and exciting style of hog hunting then you will just end up lugging around a tripod for no reason. I didn’t use it very much, but the times I did worked very well. Simply put, the dynamic approach to engaging the hogs at close range distances doesn’t really format well to tripod use.

Final Thoughts

This was an entirely thrilling project and I hope the first of many hog hunts that I attend. I learned a lot about my gear and how to use my AR-15 even more effectively. If you’re interested in more information on hunting hogs at night and some of the techniques we actually used, stay tuned for more articles covering the process and other tips and tricks that will help you be successful on your very own hog hunt!

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